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A chat with designer Kristina Hastings of Mod Girl.
After 10 years designing uniforms and sportswear for local cheerleading teams, Kristina Hastings quickly developed an expertise for what the average tween wears to get their sweat on. So when she and her sister, Brittney, decided to launch Mod Girl in 2016, the L.A. duo already possessed a good understanding of that finicky transitional age. And when Hastings wasn’t sure, she just asked. “The secret is to listen,” she says. “Every quarter, I meet with a group of tween girls and ask for their opinion on fabrics, prints and styles to get a feel for what they like and would actually wear.”
Mixing bright prints and sophisticated color blocking, Mod Girl gives tweens more mature sportswear silhouettes from open-back tanks to mesh leggings. The line of crop tops, leggings and outerwear comes in loose-fitting to tight silhouettes to ensure every growing figure feels confident. Using quality fabrics for secure fit and longevity, Mod Girl’s apparel is made of a semi-heavy to heavy-weight nylon spandex. “It’s very durable, washes extremely well and has a nice hand, so it’s very comfortable to wear,” Hastings says.
For Fall ’18, Hastings expects athleisure to continue to gain momentum. For Mod Girl, colors like Millennial Pink will remain relevant while Ultra Violet (Pantone’s 2018 “Color of the Year”) works its way into the mix. The incoporation of mesh will also see an increase in both tops and leggings—a daring decision when considering some moms’ worries about modesty. However, Hastings insists the mesh styles are always designed with a tasteful balance in mind. “I place mesh panels on my leggings in unrevealing areas, such as the calf,” she says, noting that solid fabric options are available.
Since launching, Hastings has been educating retailers about the rapidly growing athleisure trend and the benefits the category can have in their store from casual layering to mini-me options. An accessible price range and U.S.-made quality are additional brand assets, according to Hastings. “I’ll never substitute quality for price,” she says. “I work closely with my manufacturers in Los Angeles to come up with a program where everyone—manufacturer, myself, the retailer and the customer—all win.” —Aleda Johnson
What’s trending strong for this fall? We see more purple in designers’ collections, as well as more comfort-driven clothing. Unicorns will still be very popular along with any animal hybrid that ends with “corn,” such as a “caticorn” and “slothicorn.”
How do you see athleisure evolving? We’re only in the beginning stage of this growing trend. I think the tween market will mirror the women’s market in regard to activewear/athleisure, creating its very own category. Tween girls want to look and be just like their mothers. They want to feel like young adults—not little girls. It’s up to us, as an industry, to help them achieve that.
What’s the biggest challenge designing for tweens? Tweens are very quick to grow up because of the internet and social media outlets like Instagram. I design with mature style lines while still keeping it mom-friendly. My No. 1 goal is to make tween girls feel empowered while giving them an opportunity to express themselves in clothing they feel comfortable and confident in.
How do you best reach your young customer? Social media plays a large role for us. It has been a great way to get the brand out into the market. We maintain a social media presence on Instagram in efforts to drive sales through our retail partners. This has been especially successful in engaging with our followers through ambassador contests. The last contest we held brought in several thousand tween applicants wanting to promote Mod Girl worldwide.
What do you love most about your job? The genuine and excited expressions the girls show when they wear Mod Girl. To watch them walk around with confidence and pride validates all the hard work I put into building this brand.
What might people be surprised to know about you? In my teen years, I regularly performed in front of live audiences as Batgirl in the Batman and Robin stunt show at Six Flags Magic Mountain. I stage-fought villains, fell down flights of stairs, rollerbladed down two- to three-story ramps and ziplined from the tops of bleachers to the stage.